New Delhi: The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) today told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it has removed around 80 tonnes of debris dumped on the Yamuna floodplains after the idol immersions in the recent festivals.
The green panel had directed the Delhi government and other authorities to submit a status report on the condition of river Yamuna after the immersion of Ganesh and Durga idols.
DDA told a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that the responsibility for organising and managing the immersion of idols at specially created ghats on Yamuna floodplains vested with the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control and the municipal corporations concerned.
“The answering respondent (DDA) is responsible for the development of the floodplain and to check any illegal dumping of any debris as well as any other directions already passed by this tribunal to protect the floodplain.
The irrigation and flood control has already cleared the immersed idols from the specified ghats created for the purpose of immersion of idols and has dumped the same on the floodplain, in place of disposing safely in MCD construction waste site within a period of 48 hours from immersion, which is in violation of this tribunal’s direction, DDA said.
Terming this as a “lacklustre” approach of the municipal corporations, the report, filed through advocate Kush Sharma, said it has removed debris in the form of idols through 20 trucks weighing about 80 tonnes dumped on the flood plain.
It also said that a private security agency has been engaged for round-the-clock vigil to check the illegal dumping of debris, burning of leaves, throwing of ‘puja’ material and unauthorised encroachment.
During the hearing, the counsel for Delhi government told the bench that the cleaning process of the banks of the river was in progress, the idols which were immersed were being removed and the authorities including the municipal corporations will carry them to the appropriate sites.
The matter was listed for next hearing on October 12.
The NGT was hearing a plea filed by environment activist Akash Vashishta seeking directions for steps for cleaning the banks of the river which, he said, were completely choked with dumped waste.
Referring to a media report, the petition said due to the immersion of idols and ‘puja’ material, the river has virtually turned into a drain.
The bio-oxygen demand of the river, a measure of organic pollution, reached “dangerously high levels” during Ganesh Chaturthi, the plea, filed through advocate Upama Bhattacharjee, said.
Stressing that the river was dying a slow death, the petition said the continuous and unabated immersion of idols into the Yamuna have caused complete choking, turning the river into a virtual dump yard of waste.
It has sought directions for a complete ban on dumping of waste and an action plan to deal with idol immersion in the entire National Capital Region (NCR).
The tribunal had in 2015 passed a slew of directions to prevent pollution of the Yamuna, including a ban on immersion of idols except those made from bio-degradable material.
Idol immersion should be allowed only of the ones which are made from bio-degradable material and not plastic/plaster of Paris. Only those colours should be used on the idols which are environment-friendly, the bench had then said.